I want to go to Lauscha. I recently found out that this is the ancestral home of some of my favourite things – glass Christmas tree baubles. According to my good friend Google Maps, Lauscha is a mountain village in Thuringia, Germany, somewhere between Leipzig and Nuremberg. Unsurprising really as I’ve always thought Germany does Christmas best. The Christmas markets there are fab. Maybe this is because the first glass baubles were produced there as early as the 1500’s by Hans Greiner, who fastened glass beads together into garlands. Much later, they were perfected to look silver inside using swirls of silver nitrate, then hand painted on the outside.
I suppose it helped to promote and popularise Christmas baubles in Britain during Victorian times, Prince Albert being German an’all, when he brought loads over to adorn the Royal tree. A London paper printed the picture in 1841.
Woolworth’s and Christmas
When F.W. Woolworth visited Germany, he began exporting baubles to the U.S, where they were eventually mass produced.
That’s the value of Woolworth’s, that’s the value of good old Woollies…
On leaving my family home in the late 1980’s, my first independently purchased Christmas decorations all came from Woolworth’s; tree, baubles, lights, the lot. Woolworth’s, until it’s doors sadly closed in the New Year 2009, was an institution for us all (in Britain anyway) and a fixture on every high street. A friend of mine, who worked there back in the day, managed to buy up plenty of their Christmas stock from time to time. Much of this now decorates our office at work.
Going all traditional
My own modest, plastic Woolworth purchases (except the lights, still shining on) have long since hit the hay or been re-homed. My love of vintage has led me to scour charity shops, car-boot stalls, flea-markets, cellars and attics in my quest for old baubles; fruits and nuts, delicate eggshell-like glass, concave, frosted, glittery, fishscaled, molded, round, oval, bells, birds with bottlebrush tails, gold, silver, cerise, glimmering and gleaming on my tree. You name it, Jillslawit’s possibly either got it, or wants it.
Neither have I paid stupid money. I’ve acquired a decent collection over the last few years:
- A job lot in an old cake box going for a fiver. My auntie (who started me on this odyssey, and my love of vintage) and I split the cost and shared them out.
- Some of my mum’s and my grandma’s from my old family home, which I have always loved, and remind me of magic 1970’s Christmases on a shoestring.
- Baubles found while clearing out an uncle’s house earlier this year.
- Finds in aforementioned charity shops, and at car boot sales.
- Presents from family and friends.
- Cellar salvage – Several years ago at work, we were clearing out said cellar ready for moving premises. The cry came up, ‘There’s some Christmas decs down here, Jill, if you want to pick through them before everything goes to the tip.’ Well I was down there quicker than you could split shit, hastily casting aside the modern Woollies specials till I hit gold dust! 1960’s plastic poinsettia sprays, and better still, some beautiful fruits and a policeman surely from the ’40’s with caps intact and ready to hang. Fabulous items, and all for nowt.
Above, and below. Sometimes we have paid a little bit more for things we really like. Couldn’t resist these tiny pink baubles, and the four bells found a couple of years ago in Cavendish Antiques down Stonegate in York.
Below, a selection from my house this year.
Vintage baubles can currently fetch silly money on Ebay or in antique shops. I’ve been lucky and have also enjoyed some very happy hunting, turning up stuff from the most unexpected places, including one I picked up in a charity shop this week on my recent jaunt to York, for the staggering sum of 25p! Hand in pocket for brass, no messing!
So from Jillslawit, proving sometimes that Where there’s a Jill, there’s a Way, I wish everyone a very happy Christmas, what’s left of it, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.